Orchard Property Owners Association denied injunction, 911 tower construction proceeds

Mountain Judicial Circuit Superior Court Judge William Oliver denied the injunction and restraining order for the Orchard Property Owners Association on December 1. (NowHabersham.com)

The Mountain Judicial Superior Court has denied the Orchard Property Owners Association’s bid for a restraining order and injunction to halt the construction of a public safety tower in the Orchard subdivision.

The decision, handed down by Judge William Oliver on December 1, allows Habersham County to move forward with the crucial 911 tower project.

Orchard covenants violated

The legal dispute unfolded during hearings on November 18 and 19, where both parties presented their cases. The property owners association contended that the county’s construction violated subdivision covenants and ordinances, causing irreparable harm to the association and damaging the Orchard Subdivision. Their request included a restraining order to stop construction and prevent further site work.

Court documents revealed the association’s case relied on the fact that the covenants are valid. This argument was supported by the County Board of Commissioners’ acknowledgment in an April 2023 letter.

The lot highlighted in green is the lot developer Virgil Lovell gave to Habersham County years ago. It’s where the county intends to build a new 911 tower. (Source: qPublic)

Critical locations for 911

Habersham County countered, asserting the urgent need for the public safety tower due to the outdated and unsupported state of the current 911 system. They emphasized the system’s limited coverage (approximately 65% of the county) and its inability to reach critical locations such as schools, hospitals, and the courthouse.

Denial harms public interests

Judge Oliver, faced with the dilemma of balancing private contractual interests against public safety concerns, acknowledged harm to the property owners association but emphasized that denying the tower’s construction would harm public interests significantly. The court concluded that the association was not entitled to a temporary and interlocutory injunction.

This is where the county wants to build the tower. On a lot that it owns surrounded by vacant lots between Cider Ridge and Bear Gap Road. An abandoned, bunker-height water tank sits on the property. (Jerry Neace/NowHabersham.com)

Habersham County Attorney Donnie Hunt expressed satisfaction with the outcome and anticipated immediate progress on the 911 tower project stating, “We are pleased with the result and anticipate the project will move forward immediately as time is of the essence.”

Further litigation unknown

Richard Rumble, a member of the Orchard Property Owners Association stated after the announcement that “A final decision whether or not to pursue further litigation has not been made.”

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